Special Report The 3Ps: Printing, Production and Paper
“Because paper is a commodity, procuring it often comes down to playing a complicated numbers game,” says Terry Monahan, a sales rep for New York City-based Bulkley Dunton Publishing Group, a division of xpedx, a paper distributor.
“But it’s more than about just numbers,” Monahan continues. An educated cataloger is in the best position to make fiscally sensible decisions about paper — typically, the largest line item in catalog print production, she notes.
At this point in catalog history, when time is one of the most sacred resources and continuing education is a luxury, it’s not always easy for catalogers to justify learning all there is know about the paper market. Fortunately, Monahan says, you don’t need to become an overnight expert, but do keep these principles in mind:
Know the tradeoffs. Before you choose a sheet, discern what’s most important to you, says Monahan. “Is it the image and keeping with your brand? Is it the cost of the paper?”
Also keep in mind quantity, delivery timing and how often the mill manufacturers the sheet, she adds. “All of these considerations must be weighed and balanced before choosing the paper for your catalog.”
• Be sure it will work. Ask your printer if it has the expertise and equipment to work with your selected stock. “Mill tech reps can be a great resource,” she continues. “They can work in conjunction with your printer to determine if the stock will run on press effectively, efficiently and affordably.”
• Test and re-test. Work with your supplier to test different paper stocks and basis weights. “Many mills are adding brightness to sheets and changing the shades of whiteness,” Monahan explains. “Know the difference between the two. And when testing, look at not only the brightness/whiteness, but also the opacity and how the overall design reproduces on it.”